German national Dirk Bender, 32, finally got his just
desserts. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison (the
maximum penalty) on Monday this week, after having been found
guilty of attempting to smuggle out very rare and endemic Land
Iguanas from Galapagos last July. He has been held in
pre-trial custody in Galapagos since then, but will now be moved to
Guayaquil to satisfy the judgment. His time already spent in
custody will be deducted from the sentence, meaning he's looking at
a July 2016 release from prison.
Mr. Bender had been caught doing the same thing in Fiji in 2011,
trying to smuggle local reptiles out of that country.
One wonders how many times he has been successful in doing so at
other places. Clearly, the Fiji experience did
not discourage him from continuing this abhorrent practice.
CNH Tours hopes that Ecuador's environmental justice will be more
successful, and congratulates the lawyers and judges involved in
applying a law that too often is disregarded or considered
The illegal trade of protected species around the world
contributes to the decline in population numbers for many rare
plants and animals. Most of these die while being smuggled,
but the practice continues. These species are
best observed where they live, not in people's homes as
For more information on illegal wildlife trade, consult TRAFFIC
(The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network - www.traffic.org).
Below: Dirk Bender goes to trial on Monday, February 4th,
Below,, the CNH Tours "Picture of the Year', the moment Dirk
Bender gets caught by the authorities, in July 2012: